Women and abortion in Soviet Society

In the article “Revolution and the Family”, Wendy Goldman discussed the ideas of abortion and women in the Soviet Union.  She discussed how women in the Soviet Union, believed and even acted on using abortion in their lives.  She argued that abortion was used more often with women who were in comfortable positions, such as being married, than women who were unmarried, jobless, or young.  To prove her argument, she looked at influences in Soviet society that helped women in stable conditions make such decisions.

So why did Soviet women, the married and stable ones, decide to use abortion?  Wendy Goldman noted that the use of abortion was evident from the mid 1920s until the prohibition of abortion in 1936.  During this time, Goldman noted that abortion was a result of two important aspects.  First, she noted that during the 1920s, there had been the problem of overcrowding of children in Soviet homes.((Wendy Goldman, “Revolution and the Family” in The Stalin Revolution: Foundations of the Totalitarian Era. 4th edition. Edited by Robert V Daniels.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. 163))  This can be contributed to two factors.  First, the devastating effects of World War I and the Russian Civil War left many children parentless, thus creating influxes of adopted children throughout homes.  Second, Goldman pointed to the idea of Stalins policies that everyone works, both men and women.  Thus, opportunities in the workforce and the military opened up for women, allowing them to leave the home.  Wendy Goldman noted that the number of women entering the workforce between 1930 and 1931 “in heavy industry leaped suddenly from 22 percent to 42 percent.” (((Wendy Goldman, “Revolution and the Family” in The Stalin Revolution: Foundations of the Totalitarian Era. 4th edition. Edited by Robert V Daniels.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. 164)) As a result of the rapid jump in the number of women entering the workforce, women who were in stable conditions tended to abort their children because because of the strain pregnancy and taking care of children were on the women.

Considering Wendy Goldmans piece on abortion, do you think that this was true among all ethnic groups?  Or do you think it was only true among ethnic Russians?

Pronatalism and the Soviet Union

Pro natalism

After the First World War, empires, both big and small, were trying to rebuild themselves to become stronger. Their economies were extremely weak and their population had greatly decreased due to all of the deaths during the war. Nations wanted their economies to be stronger by increasing industrialization and in order to do this, governments focused on family planning and parenthood.

All of Europe and the Soviet Union were focused on re-boosting their populations looking closely at birth rates. In Wendy Goldman’s text, Revolution and the Family, she goes into great detail about the issues surrounding family planning and parenthood just before the Second World War, specifically in the Soviet Union. The government outlawed abortion, created incentives for child bearing, and made it extremely difficult to divorce your partner. In Russia however, women entered the work force, which increased industrialization, but decreased birth rates. Due to both women and men being outside the house working all day, children were abandoned and neglected at home and would turn to petty crimes. The government then really focused on the family life and required parents to focus more attentively on their children and their education.

The picture attached to this blog is propaganda in Russia trying to get families to have more children. Families that had a certain amount of children were given incentives by the government and the more children you had the more they would pay you. The Soviet Union ran into the issue of there not being enough space for all of the children, especially in detention centers where they were sent when they got into trouble.

Due to strong government opposition and propaganda, birth rates did increase and the Soviet Union did find a complete balance between the work force and families.


Image source: http://takimag.com/article/motherland/print#axzz2fO2NkSzJ